Heritage Survey

Vancouver Heritage Foundation along with SFU has put out a survey request regarding heritage buildings in Vancouver.  It is, they say, “a critical tool” in their “effort to explore whether heritage building conservation matters in the 21st century.”


The survey takes just a few minutes to complete and I would encourage those interested in our heritage to submit your responses as soon as possible.



Map of the Century Signs Houses

Here’s our two dozen houses from 1912 and earlier, all ones sporting our plaques in their front yards. Most of the photographs are by Penny Street. Readers interested in further analysis of common Vancouver housing styles of the period should seek out the book Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years, particularly the graphic on pages 90-1; unfortunately, there’s no good on-line source for that material yet although the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is working on a web tool.

Grandview Walks and Talks

At our last meeting, we firmed up our plans for a series of walks and talks on the history and heritage of Grandview during the fall and winter season.  Here are some brief details for you to fill out your calendar:

Saturday, September 15th at 2pm:   Bruce Macdonald will conduct a walking tour of the area around Grant & Commercial, discussing the importance of that area to the development of Grandview.

Sunday, October 21st at 10am:  Maurice Guibord will take you on a walking tour around the streets between Clark Drive and Commercial Drive — an often overlooked part of our neighbourhood.

Wednesday, November 21st at 7pm:  Jak King will give an illustrated talk on the history of Commercial Drive to 1950.  This will probably be at The Learning Centre at Britannia Library.

No registration will be required for these events and attendance will be by donation..

In addition, in January, Penny Street will be giving a workshop on building a history of your house, and there will be further walks and talks in the spring of 2013.

As we get closer to each event, we will post more details here and through our email list which you can subscribe to by sending a message to grandviewheritage@gmail.com.



The Birthday Signs Launch!

This morning we formally launched our Centenary Birthday Signs campaign in front of the wonderful series of 1912 houses on the south east corner of First and Victoria.  Twenty-five or more local residents — including a number of owners whose heritage houses now sport our signs — helped us celebrate the glorious heritage houses that are such a feature of our Grandview neighbourhood.

Historians Bruce Macdonald, Jak KIng and Michael Kluckner each had a few words to say about the project, the houses and the relevance of heritage retention in the modern world.  Then Don Smith, owner of two of these houses, talked about the pleasure they had given him and his family.  Finally, he and his wife formally accepted their signs.

With the formal business out of the way, everyone helped us eat our way through a wonderful birthday cake.

Historian Bruce Macdonald talks about the Edwardian Village of Grandview

Susan and Don Smith take possession of the 100th birthday sign for their house

The 100th Birthday Cake that was enjoyed by all

This has proven to be a wonderfully successful project and all of us in the Grandview Heritage Group are heartened by the interest shown by so many in these houses and their relevance to our community.  As we work our way through the ongoing Grandview Community Plan that will affect the future of our neighbourhood for a generation, we hope that this interest will help ensure the survival of the community we love so well.

Meeting Notes — August

We had a splendid meeting last night, with a welcome number of new faces appearing to add their insights and opinions.

Much of our time was spent dealing with housekeeping matters to do with the Centenary Birthday Signs launch on Saturday morning.  We will kick off smartly at 10am with a short speech about 1912 and the development of Grandview at that period, along with an appreciation of the particular houses we are celebrating that day.  The formal posting of the sign will be followed by the presentation of a 100th birthday cake. We are hoping for a good crowd.

Talk of planting a centenary sign outside Professor Odlum’s wonderful old house on Grant Street just behind the liquor store led to an interesting discussion about co-op housing in the neighbourhood and the fact that 2012 is International Year of the Co-op.  The co-op which has occupied the Odlum House since 1980  is having a celebration this Saturday evening.

From co-ops, the conversation moved on to the current Community Plan process and the role that heritage may play in it.  There was general agreement that the current and recent City administrations seem to be lacking in sympathy for heritage retention, and a number of ideas were floated that could improve that situation while moving forward on City priorities such as the Greenest City initiative.  These included changes to the building code that would assist retention and renovation of older heritage houses (after all, the greenest building is the one that is already built), and innovative ideas for repurposing the hundreds of 1940s and 1950s “starter homes” in Grandview.  Our members and others interested are encouraged to participate actively in the Community Plan process to ensure that our past is maintained as part of our future.

We firmed up plans for our Walks and Talks series this fall and winter, and I’ll write up a separate post about those later today.

Finally, in our usual glee for show and tell, Eric brought along another of his extensive collection of technical books from the early part of the 20th century — this one included surprisingly modern bathroom fixtures — and Ann showed us a wonderful cast made by a local metal workshop that she found in her house.

Next Meeting: August 16th

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is at 7:00pm on Thursday 16th August at the Britannia Board Room.  Everyone is welcome.

As usual we will have no formal agenda, but I am sure we will be talking about the official launch of our Centenary Birthday Signs campaign this coming Saturday, perhaps formalizing our plans for walks and talks this fall and winter, and, maybe, helping launch a new campaign to revive the Interesting Citizens page that has disappeared from the new City of Vancouver website. And probably much more besides.

Please come along and share your thoughts with us!

Centenary Birthday Signs Campaign Release

In recognition of the heritage-rich character of the Grandview neighbourhood, the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG) is officially launching its Centenary Houses celebration campaign at 10:00 am on Saturday 18th August with a sign-posting and birthday cake event at 1710 and 1718 Victoria Drive, just south of 1st Avenue.  The public is warmly invited to attend.

There was rampant real estate speculation in Grandview in the first few years of the twentieth century; after all, it had a “grand view” of downtown and the mountains. Many people thought it would end up as the fanciest neighbourhood in the city. Eventually, that prize went to Shaughnessy, but not before some splendid houses were built in Grandview.  During the next few weeks, the GHG will be placing up to two dozen signs on houses and buildings that were built in 1912 or earlier.

We already have approvals for signs at various houses on Venables Street, Pandora Street, Adanac Street, Lakewood Drive, Victoria Drive, Franklin Street, Charles Street, and Napier Street, and permissions from additional owners are currently being obtained.  The GHG is also planning to extend the celebration to a number of buildings on Commercial Drive that were completed in 1912.

“The year 1912 was an important one for Grandview,” said GHG spokesperson Jak King, author of several books on the history of Commercial Drive.  “It was the peak year for the building boom that had begun in 1908 and that would burst in the pre-war recession of 1913–1914.  1912 saw the largest increase in population for any year since the opening of Grandview as a suburb in 1902.  The houses built that year ranged from mansions and apartment blocks to more simple workers’ homes. Through this campaign, we hope to highlight many of the houses that have served the neighbourhood so well for a hundred years and more.”

The GHG Birthday Signs campaign has been financed by local fundraising and grants from the City of Vancouver’s Grandview Woodland Community Plan team and the Neighbourhood Small Grants Project of the Vancouver Foundation.  We sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to this celebration of our heritage.